Monday, August 10, 2009

Maharashtra Govt to hike minority students' allowance

Mumbai, Aug 9 (PTI) In the wake of 30 per cent drop out rate of minority students in secondary schools, Maharashtra Government has proposed to hike the attendance allowance of students studying in classes fifth to seventh from Rs 200 to Rs 2000 per year.

The state government also proposes to pay upto Rs 40,000 per year to minority students pursuing professional courses like BMS, MBA, MBBS, BDS and Ph.D.

"This is an effort to bring minority students in mainstream and increase their participation in school education," Minister of Minority Development Department Anees Ahmed told PTI.

As per the proposal, the students would get Rs 2,000 per year for maintaining minimum 70 per cent attendance, Ahmed said. Earlier, the students between first to fourth standard were getting Rs 200 per year, he added.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Urdu Edition of My Country My Life|Cultural nationalism is not anti-Muslim

Excerpts from a speech by Leader of the Opposition L K Advani at the launch of the Urdu edition of his autobiography 'My Country My Life' in New Delhi

India is a nation of rich diversities. Linguistic diversity is a very unique and proud feature of our national identity. There is simply no other country in the world that has accorded the status of 'scheduled language' to 22 languages as India has done in the Eighth Schedule of its Constitution. As far as dialects in India are concerned, their number may well run into thousands.

The languages we speak may be different. But we are nevertheless one people and one nation. There is a poem by the great Tamil poet Subramaniam Bharati, in which, paying tribute to Mother India, he says that her 33 crore children -- which was India's population then -- speak in 18 different tongues, but they all voice the same sentiment: Unity.

Urdu occupies a special place in India's linguistic bouquet, charming everybody with its hues and spreading its aroma far and wide. It is not confined to any particular state or region. Just as Hindi is spoken or at least understood in most parts of the country, the same is true of Urdu also.

Cultural Nationalism is not anti-Muslim
Is cultural nationalism a religious concept? No. Is it anti-Islam and anti-Muslim? No.

Cultural nationalism holds that India's national identity is defined by its unifying and integrating culture, which transcends its religious and other diversities. This is not something I learnt from books.

I was born and grew up in an environment of cultural nationalism. In the first phase of my book ['My Country, My Life], which deals with the first 20 years of my life that I spent in Sindh, I have described how the social and cultural ethos of Sindh was informed by a remarkable harmony and peaceful coexistence between Hindus and Muslims.

This was primarily due to two factors: the Sindhi language and the propagation of religious tolerance by both Hindu spiritual leaders and Muslim Sufi saints. All the great Hindu and Muslim poets and saints communicated their inspiring ideals through Sindhi.

I have illustrated in my book the best traditions of Sindhiyat by referring to the teachings of Shah Abdul Latif 'Bhitai', who is universally regarded as the greatest Sindhi poet of all times. He composed poems in praise of Rama. I have also referred to Sachal Sarmast, who described himself as a 'Jogi' and advocated brotherhood among Hindus and Muslims under one single benevolent God.

I have described how the Sufi tradition is deeply ingrained, even today, in my wife Kamla's family. Her mother was a devoted follower of the famous Sufi saint, Sain Qutab Shah, whose dargah in Hyderabad she regularly visited. She used to sing Sufi kalaams, gurbani and songs about Ram and Krishna with equal piety.
My wife's sister Sarla and her husband visit Pakistan almost every year to pay obeisance at the dargah of Sain Nasir Faqir, another widely respected Sufi saint.

Kamla would never miss having darshan of Sain Noor Husain Shah, the post-Partition custodian of Sain Qutab Shah's dargah, whenever he visited India. Indeed, when I went to Pakistan in 2005, Sain Noor Husain Shah, who was in Dubai [ Images ] at the time, specially flew down to Karachi to bless my family.

As even Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru has acknowledged in his 'Discovery of India', the Indian civilisation -- indeed, the very name 'India' -- owes its origin to the great Sindhu River. Let me recall an interesting incident, which I have quoted from a book by Bhagwan S Gidwani, one of the greatest Sindhi historians. He writes:
'In my student days, at Sadhbela, a famous Hindu temple, at Sukkur in Sindh, I saw Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto. He was at a langar, the community meal. Recently, a South Indian friend questioned me: How come, no one asked Bhutto, why he was there? For us, it was not too uncommon in Sindh to see Hindus in dargahs and Muslims at Hindu holy places.'

Talking about langars, let me mention that Kamla and I organised Akhand Paath of the Guru Granth Sahib, followed by langar, at our house in 2006. Pratibha, our daughter, sang 'Satnam Wahe Guru' on that day. I invited Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh for the function and he was gracious enough to accept my invitation.

I am mentioning this here -- and I have mentioned it in the book too -- because reading of the Guru Granth Sahib and going to gurdwaras was a common practice among Hindus in Sindh.

Hence, Cultural Nationalism is about recognising, accepting and feeling proud about the shared cultural heritage of India.

I therefore take this occasion to appeal to my Muslim compatriots: Understand cultural nationalism in the right perspective. The tragic Partition of India in 1947, on the basis of the spurious 'Two Nations' theory, created problems in Hindu-Muslim relations in India, besides engendering problems in the relations between India and Pakistan. It is time to remove prejudices and rebuild unity based on our common cultural heritage.

Ayodhya: Amicable settlement needed
There is a related issue which forms a major section in my book, and that is the construction of a Ram temple at Ayodhya. I am pleased that Urdu readers will be able to read my detailed description of the Ayodhya movement and come to their own conclusions [in the Urdu edition of Advani's autobiography 'My Country, My Life.']

Over two decades have passed since the Ayodhya issue surfaced on the national scene. A lot of things have happened during this period. I would like to reiterate today what I have emphatically mentioned in my book. The best and the most enduring solution to a sensitive issue like this is to arrive at an amicable settlement through dialogue between leaders of the Hindu and Muslim communities.

I would also like to reiterate another belief of mine: Nothing can contribute to Hindu-Muslim harmony better than a positive gesture by the Muslim community on this emotional issue close to the hearts of millions of Hindus.

Oppose vote bank politics, shun minorityism, work for riot-free India
Let me use this occasion to affirm that my party is firmly committed to secularism as conceived by our Constitution-makers. We chose to support and join the Ayodhya movement only because of the prevailing atmosphere of pseudo-secularism. If secularism had not been perverted to subserve the interests of vote-bank politics, I am sure the course of the Ayodhya movement would have been significantly different.

I wish to make another appeal to my Muslim brethren. 'Vote-bank politics has not helped you. It has helped its practitioners, but not you. It has kept a large section of your community backward, economically and educationally, as the Sachar report has shown. Do not allow yourself to be used by certain political parties for their own narrow ends. Do not allow yourself to be forever typecast as a 'minority,' because it breeds a mentality that sees minorities as being different from the majority. This minority-majority division is harming India's emotional unity and India's all-round progress. Genuine secularism is that which believes in justice for all, and discrimination against none.'

Dealing with Pakistan: How the UPA government has reduced the NDA government's two-pronged approach to a one-pronged approach

Another important section of my autobiography deals with India's strained relations with Pakistan. Indeed, Pakistan in some ways forms one of the running themes in my book, right from the time of the blood-soaked division of our Motherland.

Many subjects are covered under this theme -- the genesis and worsening of the Kashmir [ Images ] problem; the four wars with Pakistan (1948, 1965, 1971 and 1999); the appearance of Pak-sponsored cross-border terrorism as a form of proxy war; the efforts of the Vajpayee government to improve bilateral relations; my own role as India's home minister and deputy prime minister in the NDA government; and my visit to Pakistan in 2005.

I have always believed in a two-pronged approach to dealing with Pakistan: Sincerely pursue normalisation of Indo-Pak relations but make absolutely no compromise on the issue of cross-border terrorism.

This is the approach the NDA government followed. We successfully repulsed the Pakistani aggression in the Kargil [ Images ] War in 1999. Nevertheless, we invited President Musharraf for talks in Agra [ Images ]. When he refused to acknowledge the problem of cross-border terrorism and instead described the terrorist activities in Jammu & Kashmir as 'freedom struggle,' we made him go back empty-handed.

Our sustained pressure and deft diplomacy resulted in a major victory for India. For the first time, Pakistan committed itself, in a joint statement issued in Islamabad [ Images ] in 2004 after a meeting between Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee [ Images ] and President Musharraf, against the use of any Pakistani or Pak-controlled territory for terrorist activities aimed against India.

It is sad to note that the UPA government has changed India's policy towards Pakistan from a two-pronged approach to a single-pronged approach -- namely, normalisation of relations with Pakistan at any cost, even at the cost of continued export of terrorism from Pakistan.

Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh has been less than honest in explaining to the nation why he agreed to the obnoxious joint statement issued after his meeting with his Pakistani counterpart, Mr Yusuf Gilani, in Sharm-el-Sheikh in Egypt [ Images ] last month. The joint statement, as has now been widely accepted in India, contains two of the worst blunders committed in India's diplomatic history.

Firstly, it delinks or de-brackets the bilateral dialogue process from Pakistani government's action to stop terrorist attacks on India. Secondly, it tacitly holds India guilty of fomenting trouble in Baluchistan.

Nothing that the prime minister has said so far in Parliament by way of an explanation has convinced the Indian people. They have seen verbal gymnastics on the part of ministers and Congress leaders to defend the prime minister's indefensible action in Egypt. The government should either admit that it committed a mistake and promise to erase that mistake, or it should come clean on what it has in mind with regard to normalisation of relations with Pakistan.

It is doing neither. As a result, people have come to believe that 'Daal mein kuch kaala hai' -- something fishy is going on behind the scenes.

It is deeply troubling to see that, even as Mr Gilani keeps heaping praise on our prime minister, the Pakistani establishment is doing everything possible to subvert the process of prosecuting and punishing the culprits behind the 26/11 terrorist attack on Mumbai.

There is a widespread suspicion that, despite all the denials by the prime minister and his colleagues, the joint statement in Sharm-el-Sheikh is a curtain-raiser to the UPA government's surrender to Pakistan on the Kashmir issue under external pressure.

The government seems inclined to 'settle' the Kashmir issue in blatant violation of the unanimous resolution by both Houses of the Indian Parliament in 1995. The country must be vigilant about this.
L K Advani

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Schemes for Welfare of Minorities

The following schemes are being implemented by the Ministry of Minority Affairs for the upliftment of minority communities:-
1) Pre-matric scholarship scheme.
2) Post-matric scholarship scheme.
3) Merit-cum-means scholarship scheme.
4) Free Coaching & allied scheme.
5) Multi-sectoral development programme.
6) Equity contribution to National Minorities Development and Finance Corporation(NMDFC) for implementation of various lending and promotional schemes.
7) Grant-in-aid to Maulana Azad Education Foundation (MAEF) for implementation of schemes for promoting education.
8) Prime Minister’s 15 Point Programme for the welfare of Minorities is being implemented to ensure that the benefits of various government programmes/schemes reach the underprivileged and disadvantaged section of minority communities. To ensure equitable distribution of benefits of these programmes/schemes, among all the minority communities, the new programme envisages location of a certain portion of development projects in minority concentration areas. It also provides that, wherever possible, 15% of targets and outlays under various Programmes/schemes should be earmarked for minority communities.

Giving this information in the Rajya Sabha today in a written reply Shri Salman Khurshid, Minister for Minority Affairs, said that the schemes are being implemented in a transparent manner. These schemes/programmes have been prepared in consultation with Planning Commission for implementation in the current Five Year Plan. The State-wise details of financial assistance given under these schemes, are available on the website of the Ministry

police training for minorities in Maharashtra

Shruti Ganapatye

Mumbai, Aug 5: In order to increase the presence of minorities in the police force, Maharashtra Government plans to provide pre-recruitment training to them while filling up vacancies of constables.

"The quantum of minorities in the police force, at the constable level, is a meagre one per cent, which needs to be increased. So, the Minorities Development Department has come up with the proposal," Minorities Development Minister Anees Ahmed told PTI.

"The Government has issued a resolution in this regard and every district would have training facility. Candidates would be trained to appear for physical and oral tests," Ahmed said.

The training would be for two months and special emphasis would be given on teaching Marathi, the minister said.

" Many minority candidates clear written and physical examination. However, due to poor knowledge of Marathi, they fail to clear oral test,"the minister said.

The training would include general knowledge, running, swimming, rifle shooting, trekking, managing road traffic, first-aid and personality development, he said.

To avail pre-recruitment training, candidates should have passed the class 12th examination and be between 18 and 25 years.

Recruit minorities in police force: Maharashtra Government

Mumbai: The state government in Maharashtra has directed the district heads and police commissioners in every district to include hundred candidates from the minority communities in police force, reported the local media yesterday.

According to the report, in all the 35 districts in the state 100 candidates from the minority communities that the state government has directed to recruit, include 70 Muslims, 20 Buddhists, 4 Christians, 4 Jains and one each from the Sikh and Parsi communities.

The Government appointment District Collectors in every district to head the committee to select the candidates from the minority communities and respective Police Commissioners, Superintendent of Police (SP), local representative from the minorities and Deputy Collectors as committee members to assist the Collectors.

Those recruited under this scheme would undergo a special training for which the government has sanctioned 2.17 crore rupees. Candidates will be selected following the norms and on the basis of the requisite fitness test. After the selection they would be given two month’s training each so that they become eligible to become part of the police force.

The decision though being termed as a poll bonanza by some people, it is being widely greeted in the state as a right step to give the police force a much needed shape and inclusive representation.